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Environment TO BAGO new slett er

                                   Volume 5 Issue 1                              ...
Page 2               Environment TOBAGO newsletter

   March 2010

Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal
Assistant Editor:
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education and awarene...
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           ment, bus...
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                        The Lionf...
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move quickly. Quickly enough to swallow an unsuspecting prey even if it’s among a
shoal of its family members. Th...
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and rest are herons, egrets, swimming crabs and mangrove crabs. Insects bore into the
orange and green lichen-str...
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in the oc...
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                                WHAT’S HAPPENING @ ET

   ET is now on Facebook and Twitter                   ...
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Page 18                               Environment TOBAGO newsletter

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Environment Tobago Newsletter March 2010


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March 2010 release of the Environment Tobago newsletter

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Environment Tobago Newsletter March 2010

  1. 1. Environment TO BAGO new slett er E Volume 5 Issue 1 March 2010 n vi r on m e n t TO- BAGO (ET) is a non- government, non-profit, vol- unteer organisation , not World Wetlands Day 2010 and ET subsidized by any one group, corporation or government Environment TOBAGO body. Founded in 1995, ET is a proactive, advocacy group The second of February each year is World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of that campaigns against nega- tive environmental activities the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on the 2nd February 1971, in the Iranian throughout Tobago. We city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year, government agencies, non- achieve this through a variety governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community across of community an environ- the world, have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at rais- mental outreach programmes. ing public awareness of wetland values and Environment TOBAGO is benefits. World Wetlands Day 2010 was funded mainly through grants and membership fees. These commemorated by Environment Tobago (ET) funds go back into implement- with the launch of Postcards with the theme ing our projects. We are grateful to all our sponsors for this year in mind- “Caring For Wetlands- over the years and thank The Answer To Climate Change”, which them for their continued highlighted some of the talents shown by lo- support cal up and coming artists from schools right here in Tobago. Environment TOBAGO, with the kind spon- W hat’s inside Mr. Betrand Bhikkary, ET director, and Zoe sorship of Ace Printery Fed-Traders Ltd., Mason, ET's volunteer is speaking with an inter- launched “Caring for Wetlands Postcards” ested visitor to the booth. featuring ten of the World Wetlands Day 2010 1 best artwork sub- ET & BPTT Celebrate 2 mitted by students. This is in line with this year’s theme Young Artists of Tobago “Caring For Wetlands- an Answer To Climate Change”. All Keep A Clean School Com- 5 the stunning artwork was done by local students primarily petition 2010 from Roxborough Secondary, Goodwood Highschool and LEAD Program—Europe 6 Speyside Anglican Primary School winners and exceptional 2009 work from last year's Wetlands and Poster Competition. CERMES Training Course 8 It is hoped that this will provide two fold benefits- What is Fitness? 8 raising awareness of wetlands in Tobago and the profiles of young artists of Tobago who are very conscious of their natu- Land Trust for T&T 9 ral heritage and its management and conservation. We also Beggar thy Neighbour 9 salute all the parents, teachers and principals who continue The Lionfish and the Carib- 11 to nurture and mould the minds of these young students. ET Ms. Hema Singh (ET’s Edu- bean would also like to sincerely thank Mr. Ramdhan and the rest cation Coordinator), speak- Biodiversity in Wetlands 13 of the dedicated Team at Ace Printery Fed-Traders Ltd. for ing with Fabrizio Ceppi a Book Review their continuous support of our education initiatives. local tour-guide. 14 Mrs. Patricia, Turpin, ET's President, kicked off the What’s Happening @ ET 16 launch with a reminder of how what is World Wetlands Day and it's history. She also Notes to contributors 18
  2. 2. Page 2 Environment TOBAGO newsletter March 2010 Editor: Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Assistant Editor: Christopher K. Starr Design & Layout: The photo on the left shows that much of the garbage collected comprised of plastic bottles, and the Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal photo on the right shows members of the clean up crew hard at work Technical Support: Nolan Craigwell, Jerome Ramsoondar spoke of the Ramsar Convention and Trinidad and Tobago's international obligations Nigel Austin for protecting and managing wetlands. Enid Nobbee Attending the launch were representatives of the Unit Trust Corporation, Contributors: Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Mrs. Desiree Hackette-Murray, Administra- Christopher K. Starr tive Officer II from the Health and Social Ser- Bertrand Bhikkary vices, Mrs. Lenora Wallace and Mr. Clifton Sebrenia Roberts Campbell. Both Mrs. Wallace and Mr. Camp- Environment bell have been partners with Environment TOBAGO Photographs: Tobago in promoting education on wetlands. Environment The President of the Belle Garden Wetlands TOBAGO Association, Mr. Bryan Bain and the team of eco tour guides were also present. The As- sociation has been involved in carrying out Board of Directors guided eco tours for all schools in Tobago. 2008-2009 Look at how much we collected!! Several teachers and students also President:: stopped by the office to view the artwork. Patricia Turpin Many expressed their joy of seeing the creativity and ingenuity of local artists and con- Vice-President: gratulated ET on this initiative. In the short-term, the postcards can be purchased at Kamau Akili Secretary: ET. Kay Seetal The exhibition of these works was displayed at Gulf City Mall on Friday Feb- Treasurer: ruary 5th 2010 from 11:00 a.m.-5:00 pm. Shirley Mc Kenna Committee members: Wendy Austin William Trim Fitzherbert Phillips Geoffrey Lewis Bertrand Bhikkary Heather Pepe Ryan Allard David Antoine ET & BPTT Celebrate Young Artists of Tobago Andy Roberts Environment TOBAGO Darren Henry In October last year Environment Tobago (ET) partnered with BP Trinidad and Tobago LLC to launch the My Heritage; My Future Art Competition. Since then, twenty-one schools submitted over sixty entries. The competition was one element in the Rainforest Education and Awareness Programme. The entire project outlines an
  3. 3. Volume 5 Issue 1 Page 3 education and awareness campaign, which included a book on the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, an Art Competition and the production of Reusable bags. The project com- bined two fundamental concepts of environmental management and sustainability: Natural Resource Conservation and Waste Reduction. Mr. Kamau Akili, ET’s Vice President, was the chairperson for the ceremony and congratulated BPTT for their sustained interest in the environment, particularly Tobago’s environment, where they do not have an operational presence. Mr. Akili went on to tell the story of how the project came into being all the way back in 2001 when Graham Wellfare and his partner traveled to Tobago from the UK. They went on to devote over two years to volunteering at Environment Tobago during which time Wellfare wrote the book on the Main Ridge Rainforest Reserve, recognizing its importance not only as a special ecological treasure but also the oldest legally protected rainforest in the western hemisphere. Mrs. Patricia Turpin, ET’s President, in her address, welcomed the group and congratulated the artists, their parents and teachers. She also spoke of the importance MISSION STATEMENT of our rainforests and the role of education in its proper management. Mrs. Karen Ragoonanan-Jalim Environmental & Regulatory Manager at BPTT, brought greetings on behalf of her company. Mrs. Jalim commended E nvironment TOBAGO conserves Tobago’s ET on its continuous work in the environmental natural and living management and conservation over the years and resources and advances stated that ET and BPTT shared this common the knowledge and agenda. She thanked the Tobago House of Assem- understanding of such bly, Division of Education, Youth Affairs & Sport resources, their wise and the teachers for embracing this project. and sustainable use and Mrs. Karen Ragoonanan-Jalim, Envi- Mrs. Eleanor King, The Chief Education their essential ronmental & Regulatory Manager at Coordinator, of the Division of Education, Youth relationship to human BPTT brings remarks on behalf of the Affairs & Sport brought greetings from her Divi- health and the quality of competition's sole sponsors sion. She reiterated the Division’s full support of life this project and many others, with whom ET and the Division have partnered. Mrs. King commended both Environment Tobago and BPTT, who also support many of the Division’s activities. She ended by saying that through trust and collaboration many things can be achieved. The competition brought to the fore many talented young artists who were encouraged to continue exploring their talent and their connection with nature. Place Name School Student School Prize 1st Place Joseph Lewis Pentecostal Light $3,000 $2,500 & Life Primary 2nd Place Sanjay Persaud Buccoo Govern- $2,500 $500 ment Primary School 3rd Place Tyrell Lewis Roxborough An- $2,000 $500 glican Primary 4th Place Dayna Borrett Michael K. Hall $1,500 $500 th 5 Place Lesharo Pirth- Step Up Interna- $1,000 $500 seesingh tional Academy
  4. 4. Page 4 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Special Prizes • Infants class of Speyside Anglican Primary School • Students of School for the Deaf Name School Edwin Campbell Step Up International Academy Alexia Roberts Roxborough Secondary School Ryell Lewis Roxborough AC School Ojani Walker Mason Hall Government Primary School Kadisha Baird Pentecostal Light & Life High School Justin Quamina Pentecostal Light & Life Primary School Cherrando Parisienne Pentecostal Light & Life Primary School Lehrell Brooks Roxborough Secondary School Gerel Granderson Pentecostal Light & Life High School Tricia Diaz Signal Hill Secondary School Ronelle Scotland Signal Hill Secondary School Celeste Scotland Bishops High School “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” Mrs. Patricia Turpin and Mrs. Jalim with Mrs. Patricia Turpin presents Mrs. Jalim of the 5 top winners of the Art competition BPTT with a token of appreciation Artwork of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners (from left to right). Joseph Lewis, Sanjay Persaud and Tyrell Lewis.
  5. 5. Volume 5 Issue 1 Page 5 Keep A Clean School Competition 2010 Environment TOBAGO In recognition of the mounting concerns of solid waste generation and pollu- tion, particularly in small island developing states such as Tobago, Environment To- bago with the kind sponsorship of BHP Billiton, Petrotrin and the National Lotteries Control Board have partnered this year to host the “Keep A Clean School Competi- tion”. This is the 10th Anniversary of the competition. Principals and teachers of more than 25 schools along with representatives from the competition’s sponsors, Mrs. Neerupa Latchman and Mrs. Eileen Blackman and Mr. Rawle Frederick from the Solid Waste Management Company Limited were present at the launch held on Friday 22nd January at the Botanics Conference Facility. The “Keep A Clean School Competition” is a programme for waste reduction and pollution prevention in Tobago’s schools and has received the full sanction by the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport, Tobago House of Assembly. Historically, the competition has been very successful throughout schools in Tobago arming teachers and students with knowledge and hands-on learning about waste re- “waste reduction duction through the 3 R’s principle – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and more recently, through the 3 R’s the inclusion of Rethinking waste. principle – Re- Students are required to identify, design, plan and implement solid waste re- duce, Reuse and duction and management programmes within their school with a teacher acting as a Recycle and facilitator. The project should involve positive actions by students that would contrib- more recently, ute to a reduction in waste generation which would mean less waste heading to the the inclusion of Studley Park Landfill. Rethinking waste.“ The specific objectives of the competition include: “ the prese nce of FP m ay be an indic ation, an "e arly war ni ng syst em", t hat our s eas ar e pollut ed and that e nvironme nt al c hanges are affecti ng t he ability of wild animals to res ist i nfectious dis eas es” 1. To increase awareness among students of the need to reduce solid waste pollution in Tobago. 2. To improve student knowledge of ways to reduce solid waste generation and properly dispose of solid waste. 3. To facilitate development of positive student attitudes for a pollution-free Tobago. 4. To encourage students to take actions to reduce the generation of solid waste and to practice appropriate waste disposal habits. To take pride in their schools and communities. This year the competition has a special focus on community action. This is to fur- ther develop a more holistic approach to solving environmental challenges and also to cultivate environmental stewards who are willing to share knowledge and embrace their community and are willing to act for change. We commend all our schools which won last year, the projects were all testi- mony to the innovative and creative ways which can be used to address environ- mental problems. Our students and teachers clearly demonstrated the usefulness of this competition as a tool for learning. We hope that this year many more schools will participate and benefit from the competition. We take this opportunity to sincerely thank BHP Billiton, Petrotrin and the Na- tional Lotteries Control Board for their unwavering support and making this our 10th Anniversary competition a possibility!
  6. 6. Page 6 Environment TOBAGO newsletter To support the schools which are participating in this year’s Keep A Clean School Competition, we have been making school visits to assist the teachers with the imple- mentation of the three R’s- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Students were encouraged to share their knowledge and learn more about solid waste and its harmful effects on humans and the natural environment. “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” Some photos from our school visits Leadership for Environment & Development- LEAD Europe 2009 Environment TOBAGO LEAD International is a global network of individuals and non-governmental or- ganisations committed to sustainable development. LEAD is an independent not-for- profit organisation established in 1991 by The Rockefeller Foundation. Since inception LEAD has recruited and trained over 2000 people from over 90 countries across the world. LEAD’s main mission is to inspire leadership and change for a sustainable world and also: • To explore leadership and sustainability challenges and opportunities in Europe and the wider world • To create a network of leaders for sustainability in Europe who can act to- gether to address urgent global sustainability challenges • To foster understanding and collaboration across all sectors including govern-
  7. 7. Volume 5 Issue 1 Page 7 ment, business, the media and not- for-profit organisations. In 2009, Hema Singh, ET’s Education Coordinator, was accepted to participate in the Training in Europe and China. The training was intense involved a creative combination of inspirational speakers, case studies, site visits, panel discussions, peer to peer learning and films. The programme’s duration is six months and involved three onsite modules. • Module 1 was held in London and the theme was: Towards a Low Carbon LEAD Associates Society- • Module 2 was held in Brussels, Belgium and carried the theme: The EU and Leadership Towards s Sustainable Future • Module 3, the International Session was held in Beijing, China and the theme was: Impacts, Innovation and Interdependence The LEAD learning journey used leadership and climate change as a lens to explore sustainable development issues among government, business and communi- ties. In addition to the onsite modules, each participant had to produce a LEAD As- sociate Project working in collaboration with other participants. Hema worked with people from India, France and Greece and estab- “ the prese nce of FP m ay be an indic ation, an "e arly war ni ng syst em", t hat our s eas ar e pollut ed and that e nvironme nt al c hanges are affecti ng t he ability of wild animals to res ist i nfectious dis eas es” lished a website for young leaders called Green Dreams & Realities LEAD Associates in London- a role play ( The website features activity interviews and stories of people around the world who are considered inspirations to young people. LEAD also encourages its participants to use social media such as Face- book, Email and Skype in order to traverse geographical boundaries. The international session in China also brought together several hundred LEAD Fel- lows and Associates. At this session, the 2009 Associates around the world graduated and became Fellows. This allowed them to be brought into the fold of the international network and find support for projects, get expertise and make contacts and maintain relationships. Environment Tobago would like to thank the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust for their support in building capacity within our LEAD Associates- visiting "an urban green organisation. space" - Hackney Clapton Park Estate Community Site
  8. 8. Page 8 Environment TOBAGO newsletter CERMES Training Course on Caribbean Flooding Environment TOBAGO During the week of October 26th and 30th 22 Caribbean professionals and post graduate students attended a weeklong training on Flood modeling and Flood Risk Management and adaptation to Climate Change. The purpose of the training aimed to bring Caribbean people in this field closer together to network and to encourage col- laboration. The 22 participants came from Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vin- cent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba. The course combined theoretical concepts underpinning flood modeling, flood hazard iden- tification and mapping together with more hands on exercises involving advanced com- puter software applications and case studies within and outside the region. Of particular relevance to the Caribbean situation, the course provided the par- ticipants with practice on rainfall-runoff modeling, sewer flow modeling, real-time appli- cations, urban drainage and flood risk attribution. Participants were also invited to attend the premier of the film The Burning Agenda – The Climate Change Crisis in the Caribbean. This was followed by a vibrant panel discussion on the Caribbean situation and position at the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009. The course was presented by two experts in the field of modeling; Professor Slobodan Djordjevic of the Centre for Water Systems at the University of Exeter, UK and Dr Ole Mark, the Head of Research and Development at Danish Hydraulic Insti- tute in Copenhagen. They were strongly supported by Drs Adrian Cashman and Leo- nard Nurse from CERMES. “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” ECOLOGY NOTES What is the meaning of Fitness? Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies When it comes to ecology, the word “fitness” does not refer to organisms that are good athletes. The concept of “fitness” was introduced by Charles Darwin where in the theory of natural selection. However, his definition of this term at- tracted criticism as “fit” in this sense means that an individual is fit just by surviving to a ripe old age, by escaping predation and resisting disease. But this is corrected for in the modern definition of this concept, “the individual’s relative contribution of progeny to the population”. Simply put fitness is exhibited by those individuals whose offspring survive and produce offspring. Simply put, an organism is deemed “fit” its offspring avoids early death and survives to the age of reproduction and produces offspring of its own. Therefore it can then be said that the parent is fit. For its offspring to be considered fit, its off- spring or the third generation has to survive and produce offspring.
  9. 9. Volume 5 Issue 1 Page 9 ARTICLES A Land Trust for T&T Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO Director Here's the plan. What if our NGO were to buy plots of land which are in key locations for wildlife habitat, for watershed protection? Land generally important to the environment in some way. The money? From everyone on the face of the earth who would donate to an Environment Tobago account set aside to purchase suitable plots. The legal implications for plots which belong to an NGO held in trust for many owners would make it a veritable land for- tress - A time capsule with which no one can interfere. We could identify pieces of land like Englishmans Bay, some wetlands areas like Granby, Carapuse, even Charlot- teville Estate if there are parcels go- ing. Plots in Trinidad too. Does anyone doubt in the power of media to fuel inter- est a project like this? The motivations for a land trust are impeccable : Take care of the ecological balance on our planet in the face of land use ravages, and leave a little bit of nature for those who have yet to come. The cost of research projects to “ the prese nce of FP m ay be an indic ation, an "e arly war ni ng syst em", t hat our s eas ar e pollut ed and that e nvironme nt al c hanges are affecti ng t he ability of wild animals to res ist i nfectious dis eas es” create convoluted arguments TO CON- VINCE policy makers TO THINK about saving the area is far greater than the price of a simple purchase. After the purchase the NGO could attain sustainability by simply asking for user fees, pass through fees, and even continue with a unique drive to buy lands by soliciting the citizens of the world. A MAD SCHEME? Well, Yes. However the solutions out there are not working toward the ideals of sustainability, and time is cer- tainly not on our side. Beggar thy Neighbour Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO Director Before we departed the classrooms of childhood to enter other forums for learning, we were made aware of how its natural phenomena and geographical assets impacted on a country's global profile. Who hadn't heard of the Northern Lights, the Amazon, the Rivers Ganges and Nile, before blowing ten candles off a cake? That the school curriculum then only focussed on the larger than life examples may have something to do with the island mentality that what we have just isn't worth much. At least not if something bigger is there to look at. However bigger isn't always better is it? Imagine you are in California USA, with great plans to build another golf course
  10. 10. Page 10 Environment TOBAGO newsletter around the creek on your latest purchase of land. If someone several states away is mak- ing a decision to build a dam, say in Arizona, Nevada or even far away as Utah, there is the real possibility of your watercourse drying, as would your investment. So someone somewhere in that larger picture makes a decision affecting either you or a dam builder upstate. Thus is 'Freedom' curtailed. In the continental US there are many owners, many locations and many rules governing usage of the natural environment. In this little two by four state Trinidad and Tobago, how fortunate are we to have our own rivers, our own forests, even our own wildlife? In the big countries as we saw, it's very a different feeling. Over there, management, movement and politics all play a part to dampen the joy of the 'ownership' we in Trinidad and Tobago enjoy un- conditionally. So we speak of the privilege of ownership. Its all subjective though, this privilege. We are a small population in a tiny place and we do not employ the right to manage our assets responsibly. Examples abound of environmental irresponsibility. Where to start fixing the damage? That's the dilemma. We cannot really look to the Law, its essentially not performing as a guardian of natural assets and resources. Certainly not for generations of those who are yet to be born. The legal system we currently employ protect the rights of the landowner as per- sonal property. That this law was in effect written by a ruling class at a time where aris- “We cannot tocracy and serfdom were the order of the day seems a trifle not worth consideration. really look to the Look to the politicians and expect only token acknowledgement unless the topic Law, its essen- on the table can lose them votes - or win public support for them. The latter is a rare tially not per- case as environmental advocacy rarely creates friends. In a bizarre evolution of the need forming as a to represent the good of the Trinidad and Tobago public, representatives merely seek guardian of natu- the good of their supporting public. ral assets and re- In trying to save the natural environment for future generations there's no use sources. “ looking to the state agencies, they are essentially puppets if anyone cares to admit it. Big business can only go so far as their PR departments can impact, or as a champion on the Board may wish to indulge. 'Dead in the water!', that’s what a pragmatic environmental- “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” ist may offer to fellow tree huggers crying the watersheds full as they moan the crime of the ages. Disdain for the rights of others is apparently the order of the day in our twin island state, and no more so than right here in Tobago today. This little slice of paradise is just 116 square miles, populated by what amounts to a single family of displaced souls from across the Atlantic, yet from its shoddy appearance they manage to hold little pride in their inadvertently acquired asset. The problems Tobago faces (there just isn't space to list all which its bigger sis- ter suffers) in land development can be squarely dumped at the door of the landowners. Each parcel which comes under the blade of an earth mover, each rock which is dis- placed without due regard for its aesthetic or ecological value is revealing disdain to all else, shown by the present titleholder, tenant, or lessee. That they would arbitrarily make decisions only on the shortest term economic outlook cannot augur well for the next generation. That they care not for the common good of all the islands residents, which includes plant, animal and human life is Disdain. That anyone in a position to take care of this small piece of land would expect others to educate and enhance, mayhap even enforce, is truly not holding in mind the saying that "the land we hold now is not a gift from our ancestors; it’s a loan from our descendants". Land holding is a privilege which denotes an element of freedom. Disdain for privilege of any type leads to erosion of freedoms- sooner rather than later. That a section of soci- ety looks on in disbelief that another part would place the quality of island
  11. 11. Page 11 Environment TOBAGO newsletter The Lionfish. Is it a visual treat or a veritable threat? Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO Director Pterois volitans may have come to us in the Atlantic basin via a washed out aquar- ium as some suggest, but its introduction to our coastal waters may not be the important thing to worry about at this stage. It's also a fact that the lionfish is established 'successfully' maybe as even as far back as 2007, but again the concern over the details may only be of passing historical signifi- cance if western civilization were to survive the next quarter century. Pterois volitans - also known as the At the recent South Eastern Carib- Lionfish bean Conference on Marine Protected Area Management, a five day event hosted by the Buccoo Reef Trust, one Rhode Island University based scientist was severely roasted by the managers of the various parks for his gentle suggestion that maybe the lionfish should be left alone - maybe to survive, maybe to perish in the strange waters in which it haplessly finds itself immersed. The good scholars argument vouchsafed that the other problems faced by the stewards of the marine coastal zones may not benefit from a rapid and emotionally driven chase to eradicate an 'outsider', albeit a voracious predator indeed. Maybe that's the key to the lionfish's scare factor. It's not a timid retiring bland off colour spe- cies which feeds on un-named plant material. No! The lionfish eats any and everything, and seems to be able to propagate without risk to its daily existence. The scientist was right, in my opinion, but in fairness, each person present who took a position to actively pursue (and destroy) the erstwhile alien also has a point, even if it's based on their own, or their organizations interests. For example, the vari- ous Fisheries personnel at the Crown Point based conference worry about the threat to their fish stocks - Lionfish can and will eat anything from crustaceans to Cavalli, in fact if they can corner it the lionfish will swallow it. It's a bad scenario because the reefs are home to the juveniles for a lot of sea-going species with economic value for hu- mans. Those coming from the Marine Recreational sector also took a loud and abusive position against the Rhode Island academic, arguing their own case that the species which bring sightseeing hordes to underwater venues are also in the direct path of the lion fish's appetites. And it's a huge hunger the pesky critter develops - Lionfish experi- ments at Oregon State University's Zoology Department proved they can trap and eat fish almost two thirds of their size. That's not all. It never is with bad news. Lionfish can successfully trap and eat the species which control underwater weeds from over- running coral, that beautiful but slow and fairly immobile creature. The problematic piscine’s ability to feed at night allows them to prey on un- suspecting day time species coming home to the reef, and on those nocturnal animals who begin moving at dusk. There seems to be no preferred position in their hunt, like with the shark which has an optimal run-up stance. Lionfish can hang vertically looking up, or down, for that matter, they can float upside down, and still strike from any of these situations. This means they can hunt inside caverns, holes or channels. Seemingly clumsy, maybe because of their exquisite fin deployment, lionfish do
  12. 12. Page 12 move quickly. Quickly enough to swallow an unsuspecting prey even if it’s among a shoal of its family members. The reasons given for its success in this approach lies in its uniqueness to the region. From the potential preys visual perspective the large spread and towering dor- sal fins hide powerful caudal fins, and its cavernous maw expedites the 'hiding' process. Indeed a lionfish can lay in wait, and then literally block a targeted group of reef dwell- ers against escape. It can then select and swallow its prey without the others realizing something's amiss. A few among us in the diver community offer a theory that the hap- less reef dwellers think its just a piece of reef near to them. Granted they are beautiful to look at. The park manager at Bonaire's National MPA confessed she spends a measurable amount of time visually taking in the impact of the creature, almost always in reverence of its striking coloration and finnage, yet she never hesitates to net it, considering it to be the quintessential threat to her park. She's already destroyed over one hundred and twenty since the initial sighting in Octo- ber last year. However it is not a viable consideration to hunt it to Count Zero, nor to aim for its successful removal it from any suitable habitat in the Atlantic it calls home now. Incidentally that's an area which has been documented from Maine's coast in the north to Bonaire's Marine Park in the South, and as far east as the Bahamas. Instead the lion- fish could prove to be a blessing to certain concerns faced by those same two groups “Fisheries per- who hate it so much. sonnel at the How so? The short answer is C r o w n healthy populations of shark and large Point based con- grouper can control the lionfish rampage ference worry in the Atlantic Basin. However both those about the threat popular species are used for human food. to their fish To pursue the trend of thought, if the lion stocks “ fish is successfully identified as the most direct threat to our survival in that it can eat our food supply before it can become a food supply itself. It virtually forces us to protect these two key ecological species. The idea may be skewed logic, but in the Pterois volitans - The Lionfish recognition that logic itself fails to impress, this recursive argument may do the job and make the coastal zone managers’ job easier. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION on methods to control the lionfish invasion you can contact the Dept. of Marine Resources and Fisheries T.L.H Building, Milford Road Scarborough, Tobago Tel 868 639 1382
  13. 13. Page 13 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Biodiversity in the Wetlands Sebrenia Roberts Simply put Biodiversity or Biological Diversity is the variety of all organisms on earth. Scientists often study biodiversity at different levels these are ecosystem biodi- versity e.g. forest, wetlands, deserts etc.; Species biodiversity that is the multiplicity of different plants and animals and genetic biodiversity or the vast selection of genes within the same species. As defined by Ramsar wetlands are areas of marsh fen peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing fresh, brack- ish, or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six (6) meters. This definition is very broad and covers habitats such as coral reefs, marshes, mud flats, mangroves swamps, lakes etc. In lakes lagoons and ponds there are plants such as water lilies that spread over the surface of the water. The jacana, which is specially adapted to feed in this area, has long toes for walking on these floating leaves while it forages for food in the water, which usually are snails, shrimps and small fishes. Birds such as ospreys dive in the water to catch fish and turned upside down in the water are jellyfishes waiting to get the scrapes. On the bottom, sea grasses, algae, mud, sand or rocks harbour fishes, crabs, starfishes, frogs, sea urchins, sea horses and many types of worms. In marshes one can find sedges, bullrushes and reeds as well as a few herbs and ferns. Moorhens and coots use the leaves to build and hide their nests. Many species including the West Indian Whistling Ducks and the caiman shelter in the marshes dur- ing the day and feed at night. Mud flats produce a wonderfully suitable growing surface for algae. Many animals e.g. crabs, molluscs and worms make their homes in burrows in the mud, venturing out to feed on algae and detri- tus. Sandpipers, egrets and herons prey on animals in the mud. Swallows and martins swoop in to catch flying insects. The trees that dominate wetlands Caiman stalking prey are called mangroves. There are mainly four types mangroves red, white, black and button mangrove. These dynamic trees are diverse in their functions as well as providing a home for countless different plants and animals. Mangroves often seen as wastelands and breeding grounds for mosquitoes per- form many different functions and these are water purification, retention of nutrients, pollutants and sediments, supports biological productivity, groundwater recharge, shoreline stabilization and they act as wind breakers. Bacteria and fungi rapidly decompose the leaf litter of mangroves, increasing the protein content of the mud, and providing a rich and smelly food source for ani- mals. On the roots of the mangrove there are brightly coloured sponges, fan worms, sea squirts, sea anemones, algae, barnacles and oysters. Juvenile fishes such as, barracudas, snappers and mosquito fishes all shelter from predators and feed in the roots of the mangroves. Perches on the roots to feed
  14. 14. Page 14 and rest are herons, egrets, swimming crabs and mangrove crabs. Insects bore into the orange and green lichen-streaked trunks. Woodpeckers feed on these insects and they along with parrots nest in holes in the trunks of these trees. Insects, caterpillars, crab all feed on the leaves and attract yellow warblers, and birds such as pelicans, vultures, seabirds, herons and even the Scarlet Ibises nest in the branches of the mangrove trees. These trees even house the silky anteater or “poor- me-one” and it is mammals such as these which attract snakes to the mangroves. However our wetlands are threatened and being diminished daily, some of these threats are unregulated development, which leads to pointless cutting of the wet- lands. Siltation due to poor agricultural practices, quarrying or development, tend to make the water unclear and reduces photosynthesis. It also reduces the carrying capacity of the waterbed resulting in flood- ing. Domestic waste and pesticides may contain high levels of nitrogen, which causes a growth spur in algae or eutrophi- cation. Eutrophication causes less light to Working hard to clean the mangrove go into the water, which reduce photosyn- thesis and the oxygen content and eventually killing all life in the water. Illegal dumping and littering leaves our aquatic life in danger because often it gets stuck in the garbage and dies. Over fishing and illegal hunting tend lead to extinction of species and diminish the biodiversity of the wetland. So do your part be informed, be aware and pass on the knowledge! FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD Review of: F. Fraser Darling 1939. A Naturalist on Rona. Oxford: Clarendon 137 pp. [Nineteenth in a series on "naturalist-in" books.] Christopher K. Starr Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies Frank Fraser Darling (1903-1979) did field work in the scottish highlands and islands over many years, with emphasis on the biology of gregarious vertebrates (Darling 1947). His study of the red deer, Cervus elaphus (Darling 1937), is a key work in the british animal- ecology tradition. The island of North Rona is both tiny and remote. Its area is only about one square kilometer, and at 59°07'N 05°51'W it lies about 62 km above the north coast of Scotland, beyond the Outer Hebrides. This book, subtitled Essays of a Biologist in Isolation, opens with the remark that "The web of experience is largely of your own weaving when you live on a small and remote island where there are no other human inhabitants." Depending on the person, it can become a prison or a satisfying world in itself. Darling spent an extended period on the island in 1938-39, together with his wife and son, although these appear only
  15. 15. Volume 5 Issue 1 Page 15 in the occasional use of "we" and two photos with an unexplained woman in them. Rona has had small human communities off and on since antiquity, but the last of these had died out a century before Darling's arrival. Even so, the landscape was en- riched by many artefacts of buildings and fields, from which he drew inferences on how the long-gone people had lived. And he spent many happy hours restoring the cell of St Rónán (early 8th century), which had fallen into ruins. Much of the natural history of any very small island is unavoidably at and around the shore. Accordingly, the main focus of Darling's book is the littoral zone, with some at- tention to the "interior". This flat island is raised above the sea on all sides, so that there is no beach. As you may have noticed, people in any coastal area almost unavoidably spend a great deal of time looking toward the sea, and Rona provides a wealth of vantage points. Darling found one particular cliff especially suitable "for watching the pageant of the sea's edge." This pageant often included sharks and marine mammals close to shore. “Much of the Three shore-nesting birds -- turnstones, puffins and great black-backed gulls (for natural history of whom the puffins are the main diet) -- come in for special attention. Among the special any very small delights of this hard-core little book is a thoughtful disquisition on the form and function- island is unavoid- ing of their courtship displays. ably at and Another treats the proximate causes of aggregation in birds and mammals; the ulti- around the shore. mate causes (why aggregation is favoured by natural selection) are not hard to grasp, but “ how do they go about initiating and maintaining the group? This is mainly posed around a comparison of the red deer with the atlantic grey seal, and Darling concludes that their rather similar social groupings arise out of very different circumstances. A period of chosen isolation such as Darling undertook requires considerable sym- pathy with one's surroundings and fellow creatures. One passage will serve to illustrate how this runs throughout A Naturalist on Rona: "Puffins excite our sympathy because of their mingled solemnity and ridiculousness. Their calm, dark eyes indicate a serene phi- losophy -- thought we are not entitled to make that interpretation -- and it is easy to fancy about them a patient resignation to the destiny of being a food supply." The book is illustrated with many fine black-and-white photos of landscapes and ani- mals. References Darling, F.F. 1937. A Herd of Red Deer. London: Oxford Univ. Press 215 pp. Darling, F.F. 1947. Natural History in the Highlands and Islands. London: Collins 303 pp. Community Announcements "The UTC Tobago CSC is in your neighborhood Call us now to share with your group a Seminar on Financial Plan- ning" Manager: Florence Forbes Contact : 635 2115 Ext. 6201 Business Development Officer : Desiree Hackett Murray
  16. 16. Page 16 WHAT’S HAPPENING @ ET ET is now on Facebook and Twitter Environment TOBAGO Environmental and Services Map of Tobago We invite everyone on Facebook to join. Here we will post upcoming events, links, photos and videos on ET matters and They are excellent and will be published every two years. other environmental issues. Published in January 2008. Requests for these maps can be made to ET office. ET group link: group.php?gid=53362888661&ref=ts And keep up to date on what we are up to by following us Volunteers needed! Persons who are interested in helping with cataloguing and on Twitter: filing of ET’s educational, research and operational material and archiving. New Members With a membership of 397 worldwide, ET welcomes the following members: Arnika London Products featuring artwork from Rainforest Education & Awareness Programme Drawstring bags-TT$130 Tote bags-TT$120 Burlap bags -TT$120 TT$15 per card Postcards or TT$100 for a pack of ten
  17. 17. Volume 5 Issue 1 Page 17 Environment TOBAGO t-shirts and caps now available Type: Polos Type: Lady’s tees Size: Small, Medium & Large Size: Small & Medium Price: TT$150.00 Price: TT$100.00 Colours: Kelly green, royal blue, red, gold and Colours: Lime green, red and black ash grey Description: ET logo printed on Description: ET logo embroidered on left front and sponsor logo at the back breast, sponsor’s logo printed on the back. centre Price: TT$120.00 Type: Regular tees Size: Small, Medium & Large Price: TT$100.00 Orders can be made through Colours: Kelly green, red, black, navy blue, ash, purple, royal blue the office. and black forest Description: ET logo printed on Price: TT120. Literature Available
  18. 18. Page 18 Environment TOBAGO newsletter READERS’ FORUM Dear ET Newsletter Readers, Office: 11 Cuyler Street Scarborough, We want to hear from YOU! Tobago, W.I. Comments may be edited for length and clarity. Send your comments to: Mailing address: P.O. Box 503, Scarborough, or Tobago, W.I. Phone: 1-868-660-7462 Fax: 1-868-660-7467 GUIDELINES TO CONTRIBUTORS E-mail: Articles on the natural history and environment are welcome especially those on Trinidad and Tobago. Articles should not exceed approximately 1200 words (2 pages) and the editors reserve the right to edit the length. Images should be submitted as separate files. Submit material to any of the following: 1) 2) Deadline for submission of material for the 2nd Quarter 2010 issue of We are on the web the Bulletin is June 10th, 2010. EMAIL ________________________________________________